Right now, we are limited to three custom "off-topic" close reasons. I wrote a fourth this morning to address a number of recent closures, but it's not possible to even turn it on without turning off one of the other three.
This new reason reads:
Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved or concept being asked about. When asking a question, please demonstrate (as appropriate) that you have researched the issue, elaborate on your current understanding of the situation, and identify the specific things that are confusing or problematic.
This follows from a number of recent closed questions (including some that have been flagged for moderator attention). Some people have used some custom close reasons, but I've noticed that some have been rather cold and terse (not necessarily rude or offensive, but not welcoming or helpful to potential new users or visitors who read them after finding questions via search engines).
I'm not suggesting that the above close reason is final - if you have improvements, please suggest them. However, I believe that it would be beneficial to have a "minimal understanding" type close reason. Stack Overflow actually has two - one for describing the specific problem and how to reproduce it and one for minimal understanding. I don't think two are necessary on Programmers, but if someone wants to refine this reason, please do so. However, it can't be a default reason unless the number is expanded.
Some examples of questions where such a close reason may be used are (as asked for by the community team):
- What is the purpose of the stand-up and its duration in agile methodologies? - The top answer quotes Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, who have written (freely available as well as in books) about Scrum. For me, Google searches also turn up answers. It could possibly be a good question if it was more unique to the situation and the transformation from the plan-driven to the agile. It's clear, but easily answerable with simple searches.
- In need of a more technical answer for an interview question about how the internet works from beginning to end - I'm not sure if Programmers is the best place for this, but I understand the question being asked. If you've been asked the question, you can use that as an opportunity to research the topic and then ask specific questions about what was read and not understood. Either that, or what you read solves the question and you don't need to ask it anymore (or you can ask it and self answer).
- https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/211535/technical-requirements-document - Very much on-topic and the user claims to have done research. It's not unclear as to what he wants (he wants to know what to put into a section), but needs more specifics.
- https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/211475/implement-a-new-class-named-newstring - Probably a "gimme the codez" question, but if design or algorithm understanding was an issue or the concepts behind C strings, pointers, null termination, copy constructors were not understood, specific questions are on-topic on Programmers. This question doesn't make it clear what the problem is and is not suitable for migration. When I closed it, it was a toss up between off-topic and unclear. I would have prefered "demonstrate what you are having problems with" as guidance to the asker and/or future users.
Some of these may be addressed by unclear if the default unclear text was better, such as being closer to:
Please demonstrate that you have researched the issue, elaborate on your current understanding of the situation, and identify the specific things that are confusing or problematic.
In most cases, the current definition of
Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
doesn't work. It's clear what they want, but it's that no one can answer it because an answer would likely be unhelpful. It's the difference between "I don't know what you want" and "I understand where you're coming from, but I don't have enough information to give you a useful answer".
With additional reasons, I'd also like to consider implementing this custom close reason, but perhaps not make it specific to Stack Overflow. Instead, I'd phrase it more like:
This question is off topic on Programmers. There may be an appropriate Stack Exchange site where this subject is on topic, but the question may not be a good fit as currently written. If there is an appropriate community, please consult their Help to understand what they expect from questions and reform it as appropriate.